cranks; cranked; cranking; crankly

To crank is to turn or rotate something using a handle or lever. The earliest automobiles required drivers to crank the engine before they could climb in and start driving.

You might crank a paper towel machine in a restroom to unspool the towels, or crank a music box to start it up — in either case, you're turning a handle, which is also called a crank. You can also say that you crank up the engine when you start your car, even though you're not literally turning or winding anything. A completely different kind of crank is a grouchy, opinionated person. This last meaning comes from cranky.

Definitions of crank
  1. verb
    rotate with a crank
    synonyms: crank up
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    type of:
    circumvolve, rotate
    cause to turn on an axis or center
  2. verb
    fasten with a crank
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    type of:
    fasten, fix, secure
    cause to be firmly attached
  3. verb
    start by cranking
    crank up the engine”
    synonyms: crank up
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    type of:
    start, start up
    get going or set in motion
  4. verb
    bend into the shape of a crank
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    type of:
    bend, deform, flex, turn, twist
    cause (a plastic object) to assume a crooked or angular form
  5. verb
    travel along a zigzag path
    synonyms: zigzag
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    type of:
    go, locomote, move, travel
    change location; move, travel, or proceed, also metaphorically
  6. noun
    a hand tool consisting of a rotating shaft with parallel handle
    synonyms: starter
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    crank handle, starting handle
    crank used to start an engine
    type of:
    hand tool
    a tool used with workers' hands
  7. noun
    a bad-tempered person
    synonyms: churl, crosspatch, grouch, grump
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    crab, crabby person
    a quarrelsome grouch
    fire-eater, hothead
    a belligerent grouch
    misanthrope, misanthropist
    someone who dislikes people in general
    misogynist, woman hater
    a misanthrope who dislikes women in particular
    a misanthrope who dislikes men in particular
    type of:
    disagreeable person, unpleasant person
    a person who is not pleasant or agreeable
  8. noun
    a whimsically eccentric person
    synonyms: crackpot, fruitcake, nut, nut case, screwball
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    type of:
    eccentric, eccentric person, flake, geek, oddball
    a person with an unusual or odd personality
  9. noun
    an amphetamine derivative (trade name Methedrine) used in the form of a crystalline hydrochloride; used as a stimulant to the nervous system and as an appetite suppressant
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    type of:
    controlled substance
    a drug or chemical substance whose possession and use are controlled by law
  10. adjective
    (used of boats) inclined to heel over easily under sail
    synonyms: cranky, tender, tippy
    lacking stability or fixity or firmness
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘crank'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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